Who thinks Chris Pronger was guilty of infringing the “Avery rule“?
OK, put your hands back down. It doesn’t really matter. This penalty is not the reason why the Flyers lost. The team played poorly. The special teams did not show up tonight and the lackadaisical play hurt them. The Flyers gave up a shorthanded goal but couldn’t score on a 5-on-3 powerplay. Nonetheless, the refs directly took a point away from the Flyers. It’s undeniable.
Pronger waved his hand in the air. He may have been directing traffic or he may have been blocking Mikka Kiprusoff’s view. The truth is, we don’t know his intent, just that the absurd precedent set by Sean Avery made a rare appearance tonight. Then, Kiprusoff slashed Pronger. No penalty was called on the slash. Mike Richards scored. The goal was taken away because of the penalty on Pronger and the Flyers went on to lose in the shootout.
You win some, you lose some. Today, Philadelphia was lucky to get a point out of the game. Despite the strong play of Sergei Bobrovsky, this might have been a more embarrassing loss against a better team.
What I would like to know is something that may never be answered: How much did reputation come into play when Pronger was sent to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct in overtime? He has a history of trying to get away with infractions when he believes that nobody is looking. However, this doesn’t fit his modus operandi. He jabs and slashes. He crosschecks. He normally doesn’t stoop to the Sean Avery level of immature antics. Still, the reputation exists and something had to push the referee to invoke this rule for what is, as far as I can tell, the first time since it made it into the rulebooks.
Pronger’s hand wave wasn’t terribly blatant and it happened seconds before Richards appeared to even shoot the puck. As a matter of fact, it looked more like Kiprusoff’s retaliation to Pronger was the reason he missed Richards’ shot. To some capacity, the goal reminded me of Danny Syvret’s goal from the Winter classic, when Tim Thomas opted to attack Hartnell instead of following the play.
Pronger wasn’t facing the goalie either, which is a qualifier directly stated in the rule.
More so, referees are typically more conservative about calling penalties in overtime and try to let the players play. They are usually hesitant to make controversial, game-changing calls.
Naturally, the Flames believe this penalty was justified. I’m not so convinced. I want to know why the referee decided to make this call. If it was Claude Giroux in front of the net instead of Pronger, would the same call have been made or did Pronger’s reputation precede him?